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New Clause 21 — Tax

Part of Road Safety – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 18th May 2011.

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Photo of Gavin Barwell Gavin Barwell Conservative, Croydon Central 2:30 pm, 18th May 2011

I will restrict myself to commenting on mayoral development corporations. There is an irony in the positions that the parties are taking today. It is rather strange for Conservative Members to be defending city-wide government and for Labour Members to be making the case for the boroughs. Incidentally, I say in passing that I always find it slightly grating when people refer to London as a region. It is a city, and I consider myself as living not in a region but in the world’s greatest city.

Having started on that note of disagreement, I wish to say that on Second Reading and in Committee Mr Raynsford correctly diagnosed a problem with the Bill. There was a danger that a future Mayor would designate a mayoral development corporation despite widespread cross-party opposition in all parts of the affected area. There would be nothing that the Secretary of State could do but accept that designation. He was absolutely right about that, and we had a good debate about it in Committee.

As my hon. Friend the Minister said, the problem with the solution that the right hon. Gentleman proposed at that point was that it would have centralised the decision back with the Government. I made the suggestion, which I am grateful to the Government for adopting, that we should go with the grain of the existing arrangements, for which the right hon. Gentleman was probably responsible, and use the London assembly to hold the Mayor in check.

Heidi Alexander, who made a very good contribution throughout the Committee stage, has proposed an alternative solution. The problem is that, if just one local authority were involved, that local authority would essentially be given a veto. There might be good public policy reasons for the Mayor wanting to pursue a development corporation solution in a particular area. I therefore believe that the Government have adopted the right model in the Bill. I suppose I would say that, having proposed it in Committee, but I hope that Ministers will consider a couple of minor tweaks that could be made. If they are persuaded, perhaps that can happen in another place. I shall come to those tweaks in a moment.

My hon. Friend the Minister will know that many of the people who serve on the London assembly are themselves councillors in the local authorities concerned. In Croydon and Sutton, our London assembly member, Steve O’Connell, is a Croydon councillor. In the neighbouring GLA constituency of Merton and Wandsworth, Richard Tracey is a local councillor.